My first ever foray into long form blogging, normally I consign myself to twitter @MaxDCoyle or Facebook facebook.com/maxcoyle but occasionally I need to talk about things at some length. Since this is my inaugural blog post, a little background on myself I think wouldn’t go astray.
I was born in Napier and spent the first ten years of my life there, spending many a weekend down at one of the many rivers with family and friends. The family then decamped for Auckland and after a quick stay in Kelston we landed deep in the Waitakere Ranges where my brother and I would set off for day long bush explorations and swimming in the freezing streams, trying to catch the elusive freshwater crays as we topped up our drink bottles and then sprinted off through the Kauris and pongas. Thats about as much history as is necessary for this post, though through lifes meanderings I’ve now ended up in the amazing City of Hamilton, a statement I make with no sarcasm, HCity really is something else.
Dialling forward 6 years of being JAH (Just Another Hamiltonian) I recently attended the opening of the Claudelands Event Centre. Standing beside the MP of my Hamilton West electorate, Tim Macindoe, we witnessed the public opening ceremony, the official opening had been a dawn affair. As part of the ceremony, items were placed into a time capsule, with the event being MC’d by a local Radio host and Mayor Julie Hardaker. Alongside a scroll signed by the public including myself , minutes of a Hamilton City Council meeting, other assorted items and a mauri stone to channel mana, was a small vial of water from the Waikato River.
As the Mayor went through all the items on the table and talked a little bit about them she told people not to accidentally drink the water, as it was from the river, and would probably make you very sick. There was a bit of a laugh from the crowd and a big laugh from the person standing next to me. Of course the person standing next to me was still our Hamilton West MP, National’s Tim Macindoe.
With the recent report showing 72,000 New Zealanders are drinking faecally-contaminated water, this laughter cut straight through me. Here in the Waikato according to figures from Federated Farmers themselves 27% of farms are still guilty of significant non compliance with environmental measures and this figure is one that has almost tripled over the last 3 years. Macindoe’s laughter at our inability to drink from our river, The Mighty Waikato, after the National Party continues to trot out the well meaning but toothless Clean Streams Accord to show it cares is illustrative of just how little my local MP cares about the environment and his electorates wellbeing.
Until our Government implements legislation to protect our waterways, for instance the National Policy Statement on Freshwater, a draft of which has been prepared by The Land and Water Forum they will have to accept responsibility for the continued degradation of our water.
Back to the Waikato River, as Greens Co-Leader Russel Norman pointed out recently, Aucklander’s drink the Waikato River. He visited the filtration complex necessary to remove the toxic elements before the water is drinkable once more. Workers at the plant told him of an expensive upgrade in the near future that would be necessary as the river gets worse and they need more filtration/purification services. This upgrade will be a cost to the taxpayer, while the Government continues to subsidize these polluters out of the Emissions Trading Scheme and pass along the cost to everyone else for destroying our river.
My son Flint is 4 months old.
I grew up swimming in Napier’s and the Hawkes Bay’s many rivers. When he is old enough I want to have the opportunity to swim with him at Wellington Street Beach in Hamilton and at the rivers of my childhood back in Hawkes Bay without being worried about him becoming violently ill. It seems to me that by continuing lack of action by our Government, this will not be a reality. It also seems like some of our politicians never understood that old adage, don’t shit where you live, or drink for that matter.